The art of inspired writing

Appalachian mountain

Appalachian mountain photo courtesy of K.W. Kiser, Morguefile

What inspires you to write? For me, it’s often something I see. Years ago, I was visiting a relative and saw something that snagged my imagination. This particular relative lives on the top of a hill in a rural area and you drive up a gravel-lined road to reach his home. Behind the house is a mountain ridge, thickly covered with trees.

As I was leaving the house at sunset after a family reunion, I spotted a set of bright lights on the mountain and asked my relative, “What are those lights up there?” He explained that the lights belonged to someone’s house. For some reason, that house perched by its lonely self at the top of a mountain ridge fascinated me. It was all too easy to weave stories around the house and its occupants — tales of mystery, intrigue and suspense.

Great art also inspires my creativity, such as Renoir’s “The Luncheon of the Boating Party” and Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere”. The “Luncheon” features a group of people having lunch beside the Seine river and it’s fun to think about the stories of their lives (in reality, most of them were Renoir’s friends and Renoir himself appears on the left). 

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. What is everybody talking about, do you think? Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Manet’s painting is equally evocative, because you can’t help wondering what is going on in the barmaid’s mind when you see the detached expression in her eyes. Probably she’s thinking something prosaic like, “Can all of you just go home already so I can get off my aching feet?”, inwardly planning her day off or fantasizing about the handsome stranger she met on a Parisian street that day.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere by Manet

Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. What do you imagine she’s thinking? Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As a copywriter, I get some of my best ideas from the stock photographs that graphic artists use. I’ll see an intriguing photo and start thinking, “Hmmm…now what words can I marry to this image and sell the product or service I’m marketing?” Other times, a phrase springs into my mind and I’ll adapt it with the rest of the advertising copy to suit clients’ needs. 

I enjoy blogging for its creative possibilities, but finding inspiration for a blog post is a never-ending challenge. (!) Once I get an idea, various things to say pop into my mind until I can’t wait to get to the computer and share my thoughts with everybody else. And isn’t sharing what social media and blogging is all about?

Blog readers: What are your sources of inspiration?

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27 Comments

Filed under Writing

27 responses to “The art of inspired writing

  1. “What are your sources of inspiration?”

    Different odds and ends but mainly people in history. Some individuals ‘snag’ my attention for one reason or another and I find myself wanting to know more about them, every little detail. Other times my imagination kicks in (one of my brain’s more rarer moments), and I’ll start scribbling down my rambling, I like to call the beginnings of a book.

  2. “What are your sources of inspiration?”
    The great thing is you just never know! Today it might be one thing, tomorrow something completely different and the next day it might be nothing at all. The trick is not to waste the moment when it happens.

  3. I always get my ideas for writing [blog posts] in the midst of living. It’s always something I see happening around me, being told to someone or me, being shown on a TV show or movie, a quote or story in a newspaper, and the likes. You already know that I want to be a fiction writer but not ‘rich enough’ with vocabularies. But I often come across inspiration for fiction just by looking at illustrations and natural images.

  4. History is inspiring for me, too, as well as my family and everyday happenings. Kids provide lots of writing fodder, if I were only fast enough to get it all down!

    • Kids are great for comedic writing. Some of my best party stories come from the unintentionally funny things toddlers have said or done, or the unexpected wisdom of a child’s observation about human behavior or life.

  5. Sometimes my inspirations comes from conversations I hear and I imagine what that person’s life may be like. I once sat in an airport and wrote a story about the waitress that served me. Then, other times, it’ll come from dreams. I think the best thing is when you do get an idea to grab a piece of paper and write it down — then — if I don’t, I’ll forget what I wanted to do/write. Great post and happy writing!

  6. I think anything and everything has been the source of my inspiration during the past four blogging years. Sometimes I have woken up in the morning knowing that something inspiring was there–my job was just to stay awake enough to notice it. Really enjoyed reading this post. It was interesting to read what inspires you. Of course, I am so often enthusiastic about blogs about blogging. 🙂

  7. I love this piece. Taking a moment to reflect on what drives us is a very powerful thing. I share a similar love for the arts, particularly performing arts, because of the level of creative thinking that goes into them. I am a visual artist from a very young age and I feel that I can connect with the arts emotionally. That feeling, or love for the arts, is what I wish to convey in my writing. This is truly a lovely piece. Thanks for writing!

    • Thanks for your kind comments. I like the performing arts as well, especially movies and theater. It’s always amazing to me how you can take all sorts of elements (costumes, acting, sound, lighting, etc.) and build a magical experience with it.

      • Indeed! Precisely why I choose to write about them to inspire the youth of tomorrow; especially theatre. It’s an art that has its own brand of “special”.

  8. I get inspiration from almost anything, an overheard conversation, a strange-looking tree, an ethical dilemma, a tv program. However, I never get writing inspiration from painting or photographs, I try but I think that I’m either too visual or not visual enough (haven’t decided yet). I can however stare at paintings for hours and hours. So it’s really cool to hear from other writers who get inspiration from images.

  9. Inspiration comes from everywhere. A snatched line from someone else’s conversation, the news, history, or just the moments of peace and quiet when I’m sitting with the dogs and a watercolour pad, staring at a view. Moments of peace and rest. But more and more ideas come while I least expect them, so now I have to carry pencil and paper with me wherever I go. I like your blog!

  10. I am finding fellow bloggers to provide a lot of inspiration as well! What a great community!

  11. I write a weekly column so I find inspiration everywhere — from my family, to our cat (whom I like kind of in a way sort of), world events, books — but not paintings — yet — you have given me new inspiration — thank you.

  12. Research weirdly is often a huge source of inspiration for me. I’m drafting up a sci-fi world at the moment, and researching a lot of biological systems for the creatures on it. All the cool facts I am learning hybridise and spark ideas. Lots of fun.

  13. “What are your sources of inspiration?”

    Friends and family. The beauty of the world — and the darker side. I often write poetry about things that I see around me, or things that happen in my day. I am inspired by some of the smallest things — the feeling of winning a race, an argument you don’t understand.

    When I write (which is always!), my characters and some of the things they say and do are inspired by the people I love and hate. I put them and myself into the characters and it makes them become more alive — which ends up inspiring me to write more!

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